“Jorge Posada and Captain Derek Jeter must retire from the game the right way”
Aging is often the greatest fear of a professional athlete. Multi-millionaires and superstars choose to handle decline differently. Some like Jorge Posada deny it, resisting the idea that he should hit ninth; some choose to sleep in the clubhouse and refuse to help the team like Ken Griffey Jr.; some understand they should throw in the towel, but come back because in their heart they think a championship run is possible (Brett Favre) and on a few occasions all-stars walk away with no regrets (Curt Schilling).
The core group that has propelled the Yankees to victory the last couple of years will have to decide how they will leave their mark on the game. So far of the four, Posada and Jeter are already digging themselves into a grave. The other two, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez, will soon have to make a decision on how they will handle exiting gracefully.
Fans watch every move. Brett Favre is now the most wanted man in Green Bay. Posada and Jeter still have some time to redeem themselves, but they do not look like the heroes we thought they were.
On the eve of Joe Dimaggio’s start of his historic 56-game hit streak, it was fitting the Yankees were in the news. Baseball fans were shocked to learn that veteran catcher Jorge Posada had asked out of the Yankee lineup because he didn’t want to bat ninth.
In his career Posada has made five All-Star teams, came in 3rd and 5th in the MVP race, and won five silver slugger awards. Now, at age 39 Posada was batting .165, and had only five multi-hit games so far this season.
All of us are taught to respect our elders. Not only is manager Joe Girardi older, he is also in charge. Once a player starts making decisions on his own, a team is in trouble. It is a manager’s job to put the best possible lineup out there. A player should care about one thing: winning the ball game.
Posada, had too much pride to bat ninth, something he hadn’t done in 12 years, but a player should care about one thing and one thing only: winning the ball game.
Posada certainly understood that Girardi was putting together the best lineup possible. Second-guessing Girardi is bad enough, but Posada's decision not to play against the Red Sox was an even more bitter pill for Yankee fans to swallow. Posada should have been able to sacrifice his pride to ensure a win against the hated rival of the Yankees. Considering that Posada had not hit a home run since Apr. 17, he was lucky to be put in the lineup.
There was a good deal of confusion as to why Posada had dropped out of the game on May 14. Posada’s wife twittered to say he was injured; some people assumed that Posada had been taken out of the lineup by Girardi.
There had been rumors that Posada refused to catch during spring training games. An All-Star catcher being paid $13.1 million this season should not be choosy about when and where he plays. Alex Avila, catcher for the Detroit Tigers, is being paid $425,000 and is leading all catchers in batting average.
A minor incident in the world of the Yankees has turned into a full-blown soap opera. Captain, Derek Jeter has told reporters the team was not angry with Posada. Later, the Yankees organization told reporters that was not true, and they were thinking about releasing Posada.
Jeter's comments might have been self-serving. After all, he is next in line to be moved out of the lineup. Jeter's batting average of .255 is the worst of his career with the exception of his first season when he played 15 games and batted .250. Last year Jeter had his second-worst season with a batting average of .270. That record, however, did not prevent Jeter from being the highest paid shortstop this year, following a run-in with Yankee management about his contract.
Sports, like any other business is: What have you done for me lately? Jeter may be New York’s knight in shining armor, but he hasn’t contributed much so far this year, and last year showed that his skills were diminishing.
Both Jeter and Posada are clearly running out of gas. They can handle their circumstances with humility or they can continue on the self-defeating path they have started. It's time to get to work and play ball.